Jurors found Kevin P. McCabe found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the October 2015 crash that killed his 4-year-old son Trison. He was accused of being under the influence of methamphetamines when the pickup he was driving crashed into the back of a tractor trailer.
Among the witnesses in the weeklong trial were people who were first on the scene when McCabe’s truck plowed into the back of a tractor trailer on Route 16 in Sardinia. The tractor trailer had slowed to turn into the Waste Management facility and was largely on the shoulder of the road when it was struck, according to witnesses.
Wrenching testimony came from those who ran to the smashed vehicle, its front-end entirely under the larger truck. They told of hearing the screams of 7-year-old Katie McCabe, the driver’s niece. She was riding alongside McCabe’s 4-year-old son Tristan, all of them in the front seat. The wreck pushed Katie under the dashboard, fractured her leg and trapped her beneath the now-horizontal windshield.
Witnesses told of seeing Tristan slumped against his father. The boy’s head had collided with the dashboard and he was covered in blood, they said. He also was not breathing.
And all the witnesses who saw the children in the cab agreed: they weren’t in the back seat, and they were not in child safety seats. They were only secured by adult lap belts.
Despite the efforts of rescue and hospital personnel, Tristan did not survive his injuries. He died at Women & Children’s Hospital the next day.
McCabe also was injured in the crash and was taken to Erie County Medical Center. He was unconscious for several days and later told police he could not remember the crash or how it may have happened. A computer in the truck shows that McCabe wast not speeding, but also that he didn’t brake before the collision, a Sheriff’s investigator testified.
McCabe also gave investigators permission to test blood samples that were drawn from him after the crash, witnesses said. Three months later, he was arrested and charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. A grand jury later indicted him on that charge, along with the lesser charge of vehicular homicide and two similar counts of assault for the injuries to Katie McCabe.
Although there were hours of testimony related to the crash scene and Tristan’s horrific injuries, prosecutors had less extensive evidence to support the contention that McCabe was driving while impaired. Investigators testified that they found no evidence of methamphetamine or any other drugs in the pickup or in McCabe’s home.
Also, under cross-examination by defense attorney Scott Riordan, the prosecution’s toxicologist testified that the chemical results that indicate methamphetamine can also come from ingestion of a large amount of over-the-counter cold medicine.
Riordan also reminded the jury that, other than one witness who said he saw the driver of the pickup over-correct on a turn at one point before the crash, there was no evidence that McCabe was driving recklessly. The defense contends the crash was the tragic consequence of inattentive driving.
State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller is presiding over the case.